Sketchbook: Loose Park Rose Garden

I’m going to go out on a limb (pun intended) and make a statement that some may find controversial: Kansas City has an under-appreciation of its park space. Sure, there are parks scattered here and there, but stop by on a weekday afternoon and you will find most completely empty. I think there’s a very good reason for this. Many of us have our own personal green spaces. Many folks have yards. Even in our modestly sized yard we have three garden beds and a patch of grass. What a luxury! Sometimes I look around at the outdoor space I have at my fingertips and think about how jealous the New York City me would have been.

However, there is one park we, as a whole, adore. Loose Park! Loose park has a little something for everyone—a playground, a pond with ducks, a walking path, tennis courts and of course, everyone’s favorite: the rose garden. Formally named the Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden, it was dreamed up in 1931 by the Kansas City Rose Society. It’s one of the most coveted outdoor wedding venues in KC. The 150 different varieties of roses bloom throughout the summer, so no matter when you visit, you’re likely to take in some good smells.

Last Friday was absolutely gorgeous here in Kansas City, so I treated myself to a morning of sketching. As I sat there drawing and sipping my coffee I realized that I’ve unintentionally made this a biennial tradition. Posted below is my sketch from last Friday, one from 2017 and another from 2015. It’s interesting to see my style evolve. While I do appreciate the techniques used in each piece, I find it interesting that over the years I’ve grown to appreciate the interaction between the flowers and the structures in the garden more than just the plant themselves. Roses are such a beautiful flower, but I love how they have their dark (and pointy!) side as well.

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2017

2015

2015

Sketchbook: Andy Goldsworthy's Walking Wall

I can’t recall the first time I discovered Andy Goldsworthy. I know I was young, possibly a high school student pouring over a heavy art book my mom brought home from work. I remember seeing his brightly arranged collections of leaves and thinking—I get this. This was the kind of “art” I would make in the wooded, creek-lined backyard of my childhood home. Collecting and arranging. In college, I gave a talk to my Drawing II class about his works and was mesmerized to see him in action while watching Rivers and Tides at the arthouse movie theater I felt cool just stepping foot in.

So I was obviously thrilled to find out that Mr. Goldsworthy would be creating an installation practically in my back yard. Franklin (my dog) and I have been wandering over to the Nelson-Atkins every few weeks this spring to check the progression of the Walking Wall—the title of his current installation (you can read more about it on his web site). Yesterday was a rare sunny day in a month of almost torrential rain. While my days have been busy and my nights sleepless, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity to go out and capture my version of a Goldsworthy original. I owed it to my high school self.

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To Blog or not to Blog?

Welcome kindred spirit. Welcome person who has not given up on blogs—human who is interested in reading more than a caption. Many years ago, like way back, like 2006 way back (please know I’m joking), I used to have a routine. I would get into work, turn on my cozy lamp shaped like a teapot, pour myself a cup of coffee and settle in for a good 20 minutes or so of blog reading. I followed my blogs through the major life events of their creators—marriages, breakups, changes of careers. They were my internet friends before that was a thing. But slowly, things began to change. A daily blogger would start to only post weekly. Then monthly. And then I’d see the inevitable: THIS BLOG IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE. And, POOF, just like that, these very real people had disappeared from my morning routine—from my life. But I went along with the flow. I quit my job that necessitated such a morning routine. I moved to New York. I scrolled instagram or twitter on the subway and got my content in short bursts. I developed internet ADD along with everyone else and went on with my life.

But I still missed my blogs.

It’s not as though there is a lack of outlets for people to share their work. Besides the obvious instagram/twitter/facebook triad, we now have newsletters for the more verbose over-sharer (I use the term lovingly). The problem I see with newsletters is they they come to you. With a blog you seek it out yourself on your own terms. I don’t know about you, but my email inbox is basically one giant to-do list—necessary, but not for fun. Blogs are fun.

So what do you think if I started blogging? I have terrible grammar and I overuse parenthesis to an absurd degree. I cannot be relied upon to post daily or even weekly. I will likely repeat a lot of what I’m already sharing on instagram but with more details. There may even be a post or two about my child (SORRY NOT SORRY).

That said, I’m gonna do it anyway. I thought I might start with sharing a few images from my sketchbook from a little trip I went on with my family last week. We took a 13 hour road trip from Kansas City to Dauphin Island, Alabama. The occasion was one of my first and best friend’s wedding. Dauphin Island sits on the Gulf Coast and is connected to the mainland by a very tall and scary bridge. Many of the homes sit on stilts to shield them from the area’s frequent hurricanes and rapidly eroding coastline. But for the two days of our visit the weather was positively perfect. And as an added bonus—my child slept! He was a champion napper and wasn’t too shabby at night either. It was a vacation miracle. I took advantage of the situation by drawing. What a treat.

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I collected this driftwood just off the North end of the house we were renting which overlooked the bay side of the island. A really good bonus that comes with drawing the junk I pick up off the ground is that I don’t feel the need to bring it home with me. I also saw two dead fish. But I didn’t have time to draw them, unfortunately.

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This was the view out the South side of our house on the West end of the island. These houses overlook the gulf. Our house was across the road but we kept joking how it would be beach front property some day (actually we weren’t joking).

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Here is some junk off the ground I did manage to drag home with me. On the left side you can see how my sketchbook pages start out. I’ve been painting every other spread in my sketchbooks with random colors that please me in the moment. I never know how they are going to work out with the things I choose to draw. Sometimes, as in the case here, things work out.

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And because one of my favorite things about reading a blog was the personal touch, here are a few photos from the trip. From left to right: the bride and bridesdog getting their hair and makeup done, said scary bridge, J experiencing the beach for the first time, said dead fish.